By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Liberian ambassador to the United States says Philadelphia’s probe into the weekend fire that killed four children might be less than impartial in evaluating the city fire department’s response.
The ambassador, Jeremiah Sulunteh, arrived at City Hall this morning for a two-hour, roundtable discussion in the caucus room of City Council.
Flanked by lawmakers, Sulunteh was critical of Mayor Nutter, specifically the mayor’s claim that the some in the Liberian community have spread misinformation about the fire department’s response (see related stories).
“All the family needed was for the city mayor to say, we are sorry, we are going to look into this thing. But when you start to prejudge that there was inaccurate information, then I’ve got a problem with that. Then you’re telling me that your investigation might be biased, because you already judged that there was inaccurate information,” Sulunteh said today.
And he said the local Liberian community is hurting and confused.
“In my conversations with the Liberian community, everyone was asking, what happened? Is this something that would have been prevented? What was the timing for that? Because our concern is, how can we prevent such a thing from happening going forward?”
Members of that community attended the meeting, including Patrick Sanyeah (below, center), father of two of the victims.
Sanyeah later told reporters that the meeting did little to ease his anger over the city’s response.
“If the fire people did a great job, why did the kids burn into ashes? I thank the (Philadelphia City) Council people for coming to talk, but at the end of the day I left the meeting with no result, nothing. I don’t know where my children are. I will not get them back again. They’re gone.”
Mayor Nutter was out of town but an administration official says they hope to arrange a meeting with Ambassador Sulunteh at some point.